I haven’t drunk coffee regularly in over a year. I’ll occasionally use it to push through a crazy short term project, but in the long run, I think it’s a bad bet. There are three main reasons for this:
- It’s Addictive. When you drink coffee regularly, you start to get hooked on it. Waking up without it becomes harder and harder since your body relies on the caffeine to get itself going. You forget how to fully energize yourself without a stimulant.
- It’s a Panacea. People turn to coffee when they feel tired or out of it instead of analyzing what might be causing them to be tired and out of it. Maybe they’re not sleeping enough, or not eating well, but if they always just turn to coffee, they’ll never fix these problems.
- It’s a Bad Trade-Off. When we think of coffee we normally think of the “peak” that comes from the caffeine hitting our system and making us more productive. But we forget about the slump that comes with it. Because of the slump, you’re actually more productive if you don’t drink coffee. Most of the time, this is what happens when we have a significant amount of caffeine:
If you want to regain your productivity by quitting coffee, how do you do it? Everyone drinks coffee for different reasons, and your reason might be different than simply “for the energy.” Take a look at the list below, see where you fit, and then adjust accordingly.
The Break Taker
Sometimes we go get coffee simply as a way to take a break from work. It’s the modern version of a smoke break. You have a legitimate reason to leave your desk for 5 minutes since you need to stock back up on coffee. If you find that you’re going to get coffee just because you need a break from work, try spending those 5 minutes talking to a friend or going for a walk in nature. Both of these options will give you the short break you need, and help you return to work just as refreshed and energized as if you’d gotten a cup of coffee.
Maybe you need the caffeine because you’re too tired to get through the work day without it. You have a cup right when you wake up and then keep drinking it throughout the day to keep up your energy. If this is you, then you should try addressing the problem at its core. What’s making you so tired all day? The most likely cause is not getting enough sleep, so see if you can adjust your schedule to get at least 7 hours each night. Once you’re better rested you’ll be much more productive and won’t be as reliant on the caffeine to get through the day.
Maybe you just love coffee for the taste. There’s nothing wrong with that. Coffee has a very diverse array of blends, roasts, flavors, and beans. But maybe you’re appreciation for it goes too far sometimes and you end up more wired than you’d like to be. If this is you, then try tea! With all the different types of tea leaves and all of the different regions you can get tea from, it’s even more diverse than coffee. You can even develop an appreciation for the different styles of making it, just as you can develop an appreciation for operating a fine espresso machine.
Maybe energy isn’t your problem, but focus is. It could be that you start working fully energized and ready to seize the day, but then find yourself checking Facebook, Twitter, email, texts, the news, etc. The caffeine helps you to focus in on what you need to do and blocks out those other distractions. If this is you, then you probably have a high stress level and tend to give in to your impulses to check all of your different apps and websites. Instead of using caffeine, try meditation. It helps quell the voices in your head pushing you to procrastinate, and doesn’t leave you exhausted from a caffeine crash.
Maybe you started drinking coffee for one of these other reasons… but now you can’t stop. You just don’t feel like yourself when you’re “pre-caffeinated,” and the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first cup. If this is you, then your body has turned down its own internal energizers since it knows you’re going to pump it full of caffeine every morning. You’ve become chemically reliant on caffeine to be at full energy. The fix here has to be slow and steady. Try reducing your intake by just one cup a week, and then eventually switching over to tea or water. If you quit cold turkey, you’ll feel terrible for a few days and it might not be worth the struggle. Slow and steady wins the race.
Now that you know which category you fall into, all you have to do is slowly shift towards a better solution to the problem you’re having. Soon you’ll be much less reliant on coffee, be more productive, and even save some money in the process.